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The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera

I was exploring Southern France and made a list of the Top 10 places in the French Riviera. My Top 10 list will help you discover the best this beautiful region has to offer.

The French Riviera has already for centuries been the Number 1 destination for millionaires, movie stars and royals and many of them have built their vacation homes here. You can follow the footsteps of the rich to the most luxurious areas in the world. Or maybe you like more the old hilltop villages that exist all over the French Riviera?  Take good shoes and start exploring!

 

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Eze

 

This is Eze, a hilltop village half way between Nice and Monaco. But let’s start with Nice.

1. Nice

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Nice

 

Nice is the the first of my top ten places in the French Riviera, the region’s biggest city and capital. This big city is a main tourist destination in its own right.

Nice combines luxury and shopping with an atmospheric old town with cafes, shops and market stalls. In addition Nice has a long pebbly beach with turquoise waters right in the city, running all the way to the airport that you can get to with a normal city bus.

 

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Nice

 

The city of Nice is the place where to start your trip to Riviera and maybe the place you might want to use as your base during your whole stay. I made a separate article on Nice.

From Nice you have good bus and train connections to most destinations in the French Riviera. So don’t spend all your vacation in Nice, go ahead and see what else the French Riviera has to offer. Go and visit at my selected Top 10 places in the French Riviera.

The places-to-see I will show you are not really in a set order – but I have to begin with the places you can’t miss and the first of them is my own favorite village, Villefrance.

2. Villefrance-sur-Mer

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Villefrance-sur-Mer

 

The village of Villefrance-sur-Mer is right around the corner from Nice, only about 6 km round the peninsula.

Villefrance is like from a fairytale. The village is postcard pretty and it’s where I prefer to stay in the French Riviera if I only can. Yellow and rose-colored houses clinging to the steep slopes, rows of good restaurants – and above all, a beautiful beach with calm crystal-clear waters. You can tell it from this picture on Villefrance-sur-Mer beach:

 

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Villefrance-sur-Mer

 

To get to Villefrance from other resorts you just take bus number 100 or the train.

And with the same bus 100 or train you can get on to another town that has a lot of colors, Menton. Menton is the last resort in the French Riviera before Italy, only a few kilometers from the Italian border.

3. Menton

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Menton

 

The city of Menton like the area around it is known for its warm micro-climate and the warm colors with which they paint their houses. Menton definitely is one of the top 10 sights in the French Riviera.

The old town with its yellow and rose-colored houses along cobbled streets is so pretty you can’t take your eyes from it. Walk around at daytime and after dark, Menton in evening light is also worth a visit.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Menton old town

 

Menton has a lively shopping street where you can buy lemon products of the area, and two beaches, one sandy beach right in the old town and a long pebble beach on the other side.

4. Monaco

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Monaco

 

The Principality of Monaco is built on a narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean and the mountains.

Monaco is lively, noisy and crowded. More and more people are moving to Monaco and the skyscrapers are getting higher. And the yachts in the harbour are getting bigger and bigger, at least during the annual Monaco Yacht Show that is held each September.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Monaco yachts

 

But don’t take your rental car to Monaco, your French insurance doesn’t cover Monaco that is an independent country, even if you don’t see that so much.

Take the upper road just behind the border and try to park your car somewhere and walk down to the city, or maybe better still, take a bus or train all the way from Nice.

5. Cap Ferrat
The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Cap-Ferrat

 

Cap-Ferrat next to Villefrance is one of the wealthiest areas in the whole world. Lots of celebrities, politicians and royal families have chosen to stay on this peninsula with great views, magnific villas, good yacht harbor and lovely beaches.

Properties are not the cheapest on this peninsula and neither are restaurant dining menus.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Cap-Ferrat Paloma beach

 

This is the beautiful Paloma beach, one of the pretty Cap-Ferrat beaches. It’s a pebble beach and one of my favorites on the whole Riviera.

6. Eze

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Eze

 

Eze is a fortified hilltop village where most tour buses stop on their route around the French Riviera so it can be crowded during high-season. Anyway, it is one of the top 10 sights in the French Riviera.

The old village of Eze contains narrow cobbled lanes, all of them hidden within the thick city walls. There are lots of small shops and excellent restaurants – and great views! For the best panorama climb to the botanical garden on the top of the hill!
The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Eze

 

In Eze you park you car in the car-park below the old village. If you come by train you can choose to walk up along a steep path from the station that’s on the seashore. Or you can just take a connecting bus up to the village.

7. Roquebrune

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Roquebrune

 

The medieval village of Roquebrune has been built around a hilltop castle and belongs to the larger community of Roquebrune-San-Martin.

To reach the village of Roquebrune from the train station you need to climb hundreds of steps –  but the village and the views will reward you. Even the village itself has lots of stairs, in all places. And there are beautiful arches and tunnels to walk through:

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Roquebrune

 

From Roquebrune you get striking views to the Mediterranean and the peninsula of San-Martin that you can walk around along a marked footpath.

The next destination on my top 10 places in the French Riviera list is in the west: Cannes.

8. Cannes

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Cannes

 

Cannes is a little bit like Nice, but in a small scale. Luxurious hotels, a green landscaped beach promenade and a long sandy beach. And as you know, this is the place where movie stars all gather and with a good reason.

Drive up to the hill where the castle is, for great views of the city skyline.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Cannes

9. Saint-Paul-de-Vence

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

 

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is another village that’s located on a hilltop. It differs from the villages we have seen in that it’s not on the coast. It’s an inland village that you can easily reach by bus from Nice or Gagnes-sur-Mer.

Saint-Paul is an artist village filled with art galleries and exhibitions in the hidden lanes.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

 

Like Eze Saint-Paul is a place where busloads of tour groups visit so it may be crowded (or surely is…). But tour organizers are not wrong, this is a very atmospheric village and very much worth visiting.

10. Peille and Peillon

Peillon, France

 

To discover two non-touristic mountain villages, Peille and Peillon, you will need a car , reserve half a day. You need to drive a bit into the mountains. Take the road to Peille from La Turbie and return via Peillon to La Trinité and Nice.

Both villages are medieval, Peille is on the mountain slope and Peillon stands on a hilltop. Mountain roads are narrow and have sharp turns but you can do it! There’s not so much traffic on those roads.

The Top 10 Places in the French Riviera, Peillon

 

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These top 10 places in the French Riviera were my best picks of this beautiful area. When time allows I’m going to write more about the French Riviera and these destinations, in the meanwhile I want to wish you a nice trip!

Finally, here’s a French Riviera map to help you in travel planning if you feel inspired:

 

Map of the Top 10 Places in the French Riviera

 

This is the French Riviera on the map. You can see the Top 10 places on the map, in the area between Cannes and Monaco. Zoom in according to your needs.

My Posts on the French Riviera

You might be interested in my other posts on the French Riviera:

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